Mathbrushs' Parsercomp 2024 reviews

19 Once by Yvonne Jeagon, Larissa Jemmy

I saw spoilers already on this games secret, but I’ve only played this game for now so I’ll judge it on its own.

It’s a fun parser game that reappropriates directions N/E/S/W to be the initials of your friends. Directional movement corresponds to visiting your friends and talking to them.

Your goal is to convince your 4 19-yr old friends to come together, to be reunited again. Each friend you talk to can bring up different topics. Mentioning those topics to others can provoke new topics.

I had fun with this, and convinced 2/4 friends and had a third ready to go. But I couldn’t logic out how to help the 4th one, so I just threw everything I had at them repeatedly until I solved it.

Neat idea!


The English Restaurant by Eric Zinda

I’ve played a lot of Perplexity games over the years (well, I can remember 2 or 3). But something seems to have gone wrong with the programming. It’s designed to accept full sentences, but even really basic stuff isn’t understood. My start was like this:

You’re going to a restaurant with your son, Johnny, who is vegetarian and too scared to order by himself. Get a table and buy lunch for both of you. You have 20 dollars in cash.
Host: Hello! How can I help you today?
?:hello! I would like a table for two
Host: Perfect! Please come right this way. The host shows you to a wooden table with a checkered tablecloth. A minute goes by, then your waiter arrives.
Waiter: Hi there!
Waiter: What can I get you?
?:hello! let me order for my son
I don't know the words: let and I don't know the way you used: order
Waiter: What can I get you?
?:let me ask my son
I don't know the words: let, ask
Waiter: What can I get you?
?:johnny, what would you like to eat?
I don't know the words: johnny,
Waiter: What can I get you?
?:i would like a hamburger
I don't know the words: hamburger
Waiter: What can I get you?

I got through the whole game, but the whole thing was like this. The most basic words related to restaurants weren’t understood:

?:i eat the food
I don't know the words: eat
Waiter: What can I get you?

I know the Perplexity engine is capable of some sophisticated worldbuilding, so I really don’t know what happened here.


Zugzwang by Vanessa Jygon, Eleanor Jimmy

This game was compact and fun. It feature a plus-sign shaped map. Movement is N/E/S/W, but instead of having to return to the middle square, the direction you type takes you directly to that quadrant of the map.

This is a chess-based powerup game. You are a pawn, and all your enemies represent chess characters as well. You learn attacks from each enemy, and can try those attacks on other enemies.

The descriptions were well-done and interesting. The combat was fun at first, but I eventually began flinging everything I had at the enemies, as I had difficulty seeing the logic behind which attacks worked and didn’t realized at first that order matters.

This games has a secret, it’s connected to another game in the competition.. Regarding that:

The game is made by the authors of 19 Once. Both games have very similar mechanics and can be solved in a similar way. After beating 19 Once, you can unlock a special command for Zugzwang, and vice versa. The special commentary for Zugzwang makes it much better, giving you that vibe of a friend group that likes each other but has a tenuous hold, with some being grating or weird but you stick with them for now.

Very fun concept.


And now I’m done with the competition! I passed on one game due to its content warnings but have heard good things about it.

There was a lot of innovation on display in this competition. I feel like every game offered something I hadn’t seen before.

I do encourage everyone to rate and put reviews on IFDB; right now, most games have 1 rating and some have 0! Thanks for everyone who authored and judged.


I think you missed Charm’s game, Paranoia?

He reviewed it on the IFDB, but didn’t crosspost here.

1 Like

Oh yeah! That was just a mistake.

Paranoia by Charm Cochran

This game is pretty different from most other parser games.

In it, you are part of a yes-no experiment. You are placed in a room with several background items like walls, a table, a chair, etc.

You are told that the lights will go out and assistants will change the room (or not). When the lights go back on, you have to compare the room to the original room for any differences.

The game really keeps you on your toes. UNDO is forbidden, but I did use SAVE and RESTORE after a while, but tried my best on each level. It was wild to check everything in the room with every sense (I copy and pasted Touch it. Taste it. Smell it. listen to it. and used it a lot).

Sometimes the differences are obviously apparent, and sometimes not. I was always paranoid something very tiny would change (like the taste of a button). Twice I was fooled by something small; there is at least one thing that has two similar responses that are slightly different but don’t count as ‘different’ to the game.

The ending was anticlimactic. I wonder if I missed something? But the game did make me genuinely agitated; it is named well.


Thanks for the kind review, Brian, although I do actually read reviews from time to time :slight_smile:


thanks for taking the time to review my game - i definitely realised i missed some crucial parser commands/abbreviations when i released this and have been working on incorporating them. yeah so thank you for like helping me with this (tbh it’s my first IF game so there were fs some knowledge gaps going into it)


You have a large pool of talent. Are you thinking of making another game after this? If so, would you use the same engine, learn an older engine, or make a graphical game for itch? You definitely seem like you know how to code well, and now that you’ve felt out the audience, I think you could make some thing even better.


i think i’m going to stick with pygame for my next project, but i’m gonna be taking APCSA soon so i’ll be learning java too, so maybe i’ll do something with that :slight_smile: i’m also leaning more towards a graphical game but i’ll probably just run with whatever my next idea is